Selling to the government can bring a windfall to small businesses that master federal contracting rules, according to a new book by a procurement expert. Scott Stanberry's Federal Contracting Made Easy (Management Concepts) is a guide for business owners who want to crack the federal market but grow dizzy when confronted with Uncle Sam's byzantine procurement rules. Stanberry provides a comprehensive treatment of his subject, explaining everything from the major statutes that govern federal contracting to the key players involved in winning contracts. He also tries to go beyond the traditional advice for finding federal customers that is routinely dished out by contractors and procurement officers alike. "In the end, they all seemed to conclude that who you know is the deciding factor in getting government contracts," writes Stanberry. "But my question is: Who is it that I should get to know, and how do I get to know them?" Businesses eager to capture federal contracts can start by paying close attention to the Federal Register and Commerce Business Daily which prints notices of upcoming contracts, Stanberry says. Contractors should study agencies' one-year acquisition forecasts and add themselves to lists of bidders from which contracting officers choose suppliers. Stanberry devotes considerable attention to the variety of special programs designed to give small businesses a fair shake in the contracting process. He profiles separate programs targeting small businesses owned by minorities, veterans, women, businesses located in areas of high unemployment, and small firms engaged in innovative research. The book also includes nuggets of advice for would-be contractors. Small businesses should avoid adding themselves to the General Services Administration's GSA Advantage! Web site, Stanberry writes, because companies with small sales volume cannot survive the heavy competition on the schedule. Contractors should also focus on year-end procurement when agencies are scrambling to spend the remainder of their appropriated funds, he says. "Knowing the government's situation at this time of the year gives you an advantage during the solicitation process," Stanberry writes. Stanberry, an accountant and consultant on federal procurement regulations, includes helpful appendices with contact information for agencies and licensed providers of value-added networks that contractors can use to transact e-commerce with the federal government. While the book is targeted at would-be contractors, it also contains sections on bid processes and simplified acquisition procedures that could be useful to contracting officials. The book's final section takes on the details of sealed bidding and negotiated procurements, and walks readers through the standard uniform contract format-the most common contract form. To order a copy of Stanberry's Federal Contracting Made Easy, go to ManagementConcepts.com
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